AMERICAN: THE BILL HICKS STORY Image

This review was originally published on April 11, 2010

“American: The Bill Hicks Story,” is, appropriately enough, a documentary about comedian Bill Hicks, full of Hicks’s routines and comedy footage which means, simply, that it’s a hard film to f**k up. I mean, lost on where to go? Show more Hicks! Pretty simple. Luckily, the filmmakers kept to that formula, and the story of Bill Hicks, while tragically cut short, kept me smiling and engaged.

For those that don’t know, and the film does operate in this “Hicks was never appreciated in America as he should’ve been in his time” realm, Bill Hicks was a comedian from Texas known for being extremely witty, funny and caustically brutal in his attempts to wake up the sleeping masses of everyday life. In Bill Hicks was a complete comedian mold that so many, since, have grabbed bits and pieces from. Like Denis Leary? Hunt down some Bill Hicks. Unfortunately, Hicks wasn’t long for this planet, dying of pancreatic cancer at the age of 32.

And that’s one of the marvels of this documentary, and Bill’s life, really, is that it packs so much in such a small window of life. While Hicks was a born entertainer, hitting the stand-up comedy stage at 15, he managed to go through the full lifetime of a seemingly made for VH-1 “Behind the Comedian” career, complete with drugs, career ascent, ugly alcoholic fall and eventual redemption. In 17 years. Most people space that s**t over the course of 30 years, course he was never really given the option. At the risk of going Elton John, he hit his candle burning too fast, and the candle was too short to begin with.

As I said at the beginning, it’s hard to f**k this documentary up. Focus on Hicks, focus on his material and let his persona and charm carry the day. The documentary does, and it even mixes in some alterna-animation style to give life to still images as if you were watching “The Bill Hicks Story Still Image Cartoon Fun Hour on Acid.” If you can’t see this documentary, hunt down some of Hicks’s comedy specials and watch them. Either way, get a little Hicks in your life.

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